Good Beer Guide & Pub of The Year Guidelines
Annually each Camra branch has to select the best real ale pubs in its area for entry into the Good Beer Guide (GBG). Also at about the same time each branch also needs to select their Pub of the Year (PoTY) for entry into the National Camra PoTY competition. Whilst not related these two pub selection requirements have a lot of similarity and each Camra branch needs to have in place their agreed processes to select the local pubs - below are the current Ipswich & East Suffolk selection processes.
The Ipswich & East Suffolk Branch (branch) are concerned that only the very best local Real Ale pubs are put in the Good Beer Guide: Camra's top selling guide to the best real ale pubs in the UK. To this end we have tried to create a robust branch process for this is to happen that gives all branch members the opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite pubs. This process is only applicable to branch members and is in 3 phases:
- Phase 1: All branch members can nominate any local pub at any time each year until a final date (set at the October branch meeting) in late November. Members can nominate any pub by using the on-line nomination form at http://www.suffolkcamra.co.uk/ipswich/gbgnominate. Any queries can be sent to the branch GBG coordinator - currently Allan Crampton. Note: branch members usually collectively nominate about 50-60 branch pubs. Existing GBG entries will no longer be considered automatically but rather all pubs will need to be nominated each year for consideration. Pubs with substantial changes e.g. new landlord, recent opening will be discussed at the November meeting to confirm their eligibility. All votes placed in the National Beer Scoring System (NBSS) will be reviewed to ensure that all local pubs with a substantial presence in this national CAMRA system and which have good beer scores (typically 3.5 or higher) are taken into account.
- Phase 2: in early December all branch members will be notified that the on-line voting system is open. These personal votes must be submitted before the deadline date on the form. Up to 29 pubs can be selected by each branch member during this stage (this is our provisional branch allocation for the GBG).These votes will be collated and tallied by the GBG coordinator to become our provisional entries in the next GBG. Votes will only be accepted from CAMRA members of the Ipswich and East Suffolk branch. Note: it is very important that branch members should only vote for pubs that they have personally visited within the past year. Each member can positively vote for a maximum of 29 pubs. Selection of a pub should be based purely upon beer quality - not upon any other criteria such as food, ambience, music etc. Any supporting comments can be made elsewhere e.g. overleaf or on another page. Each personal vote must be named, signed and dated (below) to be validated.
Phase 3: final selection is made in late February when all votes will be counted and visits to the pubs will be made to complete surveys and confirm that each proposed entry are still eligible. In particular that they have not substantially changed in general format or recently (since Oct the year before) have a new landlord. Final selection will always be made following a branch meeting (date and location will be published in advance).
Any current CAMRA members can attend this meeting but no personal votes will be valid if they are submitted after this meeting has been held.
The nationally coordinated Pub of the Year (PoTY) competion currently has a number of judging rounds including the local branch, county, regional, super regional and national. Whilst each branch is free to select whichever pub it wants, at each subsequent stage the pubs must be judged by using a standard survey form which considers various criteria. These criteria are:
CATEGORY 1 – QUALITY OF BEER/ CIDER / PERRY
- Is the beer, cider and/or perry sold of good/excellent quality?
CATEGORY 2 – STYLE, DÉCOR, FURNISHING AND CLEANLINESS
- The pub should provide a comfortable, pleasant and safe environment throughout, with a friendly atmosphere.
- The pub and glasses should be clean. Toilets should be hygienic and clean with hot water, suitable hand drying facilities etc.
- Is the décor and furnishing appropriate to the style of pub? Does it suit what it is setting out to be and is thedécor in good order.
CATEGORY 3 – SERVICE, WELCOME & OFFERING
- Service should be welcoming, friendly, polite and also prompt whenever possible. If the pub is busy, a friendly acknowledgement of your presence is desirable.
- You should be treated like a valued customer and made to feel at ease.
- Staff should be knowledgeable about and enthusiastically promote real ales (and cider and perry if applicable – available?),
- Staff should know how to pick up and hold a customer’s glass.
- Do you feel welcome to have a drink without having a meal?
- Where possible products from local producers should be included.
- Within its limitations, does the pub offer other products/services which may enhance a visit to the pub, good quality soft drinks, food, wifi etc.?
- Taking into account the of the style of pub and its location did you feel that you received reasonable value for money. (CAMRA discounts should not influence this)
CATEGORY 4 – COMMUNITY FOCUS AND ATMOSPHERE
- Where appropriate, does the pub have a community focus, eg. supporting local groups, sports teams, etc? Look out for notice boards, listings of local events, sports teams linked with the pub.
- Does the pub have information on the local area which may be of use to locals and visitors to the area
- The pub must be inclusive and feel welcoming to all age groups and sectors of the community.
- Considering the time and day of the week is the pub busy enough to create a good atmosphere.
CATEGORY 5 – ALIGNMENT WITH CAMRA PRINCIPLES
- Prices and opening hours should be clearly displayed.
- You should get a full measure or a top up without asking. Does the pub use oversized glasses?
- Is real ale (cider and perry where applicable) promoted in a positive way?
- Does the pub try to stimulate interest in the sorts of issues we’re concerned about?
- Beer, cider or perry should not be sold using misleading dispense methods.
- It should be clear who has brewed “house branded” beers.
- There should not be any inappropriate noisy electronic amusement machines.
- Beers should not be served through tight sparklers unless brewed to be dispensed in that way.
- Where possible there should be a range of beer styles and strengths. Where applicable, the range of ciders and perries should be taken into consideration. It should be noted that it is better for a pub to sell a small range to maintain quality if that is what suits their trade.
CATEGORY 6 – OVERALL IMPRESSION
This category covers the undefined elements that are not considered elsewhere.
- Did you enjoy your visit to the pub?
- Did you spend more time than you had anticipated at the pub or wish you had been able to stay longer and would look forward to a return visit?
The Ipswich & East Suffolk branch (branch) are concerned that they also apply these same criteria to the branch stage. To this end the branch now invite all branch members to nominate their personal PoTY recommendations when also voting for their GBG pubs on their personal voting form (see GBG Phase 2 above).
All branch members are free to nominate any pub for three geographical categories:
- Ipswich pubs (pubs in IP1-4 postal areas)
- Urban (pubs in non-Ipswich settlements with 5 ot more pubs, eg Aldeburgh, Felixstowe (including Walton), Framlingham, Hadleigh, Leiston, Needham Market, Stowmarket (including Combs Ford), Woodbridge).
- Rural pubs (pubs in any settlement other than those listed above).
In addition, members may nominate a (real) cider Pub of the Year.
These nominations are then counted so that a short-list of the 3 most popular pubs can be compiled and a group of branch surveyors can then be sent out to judge the short listed pubs using the standard survey form.
Any local branch member can volunteer to assist with this survey stage but should make contact with the branch at (or before) the POTY pub selection meeting - usually the same meeting as the GBG selection meeting (see GBG Phase 3 above).
The branch PoTY must be announced by mid-March - other round dates will be set by Regional & national coordinators.
Any local branch members can also volunteer to assist with pub judging at both the county and regional levels. Please contact the branch if you wish to get involved with these tasks.
NOTE: If you wish to comment upon this selection process please contact the branch either by email or by attending a branch meeting.